Premiering next week on The CW, Kung Fu is a contemporary reimagining of the well-known 1970s series starring David Carradine. This time, though, the lead character is a young woman of Chinese-American heritage – a commitment to representation that reflects a guiding principle for the development of the entire show, one that was repeatedly and enthusiastically referenced throughout the WonderCon@Home panel.
Series creator Christina Kim described Kung Fu as an “action-adventure family drama” with “amazing character stories … a love triangle that’s really hot, and … some of the best kung fu on TV.” She also expressed her pride at showcasing an Asian-American family, noting it’s “a really realistic representation of this family that I think everyone’s going to relate to.” Co-showrunner Bob Berens remarked on another notable aspect of the show: “it’s very much a lone hero’s journey – we’re telling Nicky’s story – but so many hero narratives are really about the individual and not about the community and the web support and love around them,” including her “loving but complicated family and all the people Nicky needs and relies on in her life.” In addition to her family, Nicky’s kung fu mentor is a woman, as well.
Series star Olivia Liang joked, “I don’t have to act at all. Nicky is just my experience.” Nicky Shen is a first-generation child of immigrant parents. But she’s also trying to figure out her own path in life, and that is something everyone can relate to. “Representation is larger than us wanting to see ourselves, and feel seen and heard,” Liang explained. “It’s so that other people remember that we exist, too. Because of the lack of representation, their world view isn’t opened up to include us in their narrative.”
Familiar face Tzi Ma noted that he’s a feature film actor, and that he only would choose to participate in a television project if it were particularly meaningful to him. Kung Fu appealed to him because it is the first Asian-American drama series on U.S. television (rather than a sitcom), and the first with an Asian-American woman as showrunner. He also emphasized that “the attraction for me is that I get to play a different kind of dad … I really want this dad to be the dad that is more understanding, more loving, more open, more inclusive. This is the kind of Asian-American dad I want to see right now.”
Kung Fu Sneak Peek and Q&A
Meet the amazing ensemble cast of The CW’s brand-new series, Kung Fu! Get to know the cast and producers at WonderCon with a sneak peek into this action-packed and culturally groundbreaking series. From Berlanti Productions and Quinn’s House in association with Warner Bros. Television, Kung Fu premieres April 7 at 8/7c on The CW.
B.J. Priester is executive editor at FANgirlblog and co-host of the Hyperspace Theories podcast.